Props to the Celtics for a truly great performance in their upset of the Cavs. The Celtics played (after adjusting for strength of opponent) 18 points (per 48 minutes) better than average while the Cavs played only 2 points better than average.
Here is a summary of how key lineups played in the series. For example, Cavs lineup #2 played great (28 points better than average per 48 minutes after adjusting for strength of opponents faced, +11 points total). This lineup was great during the regular season. So why did the starting lineup play much more than Lineup 2 (98 minutes) when it was clobbered by 17 points? The only real mistake the Celtics made was continually playing lineup #2 when it kept getting destroyed.
1 R. Allen Garnett Perkins Pierce Rondo 18.46 116.87 CLE BOS* 4.93 12 1810_BOS_2010
2 T. Allen R. Allen Davis Rondo Wallace -38.98 20.72 CLE BOS* -50.94 -22 9227_BOS_2010
3 R. Allen Garnett Pierce Rondo Wallace 25.84 17.04 CLE BOS* 8.42 3 9746_BOS_2010
4 T. Allen Davis Pierce Rondo Wallace 58.97 13.15 CLE BOS* 43.79 12 9737_BOS_2010
5 R. Allen Davis Garnett Pierce Rondo -0.04 12.48 CLE BOS* -15.39 -4 1562_BOS_2010
6 T. Allen R. Allen Garnett Perkins Rondo -2.30 11.20 CLE BOS* -17.16 -4 1299_BOS_2010
7 T. Allen Davis Rondo Wallace Finley 73.65 8.26 CLE BOS* 69.68 12 140297_BOS_2010
1 James O’Neal Parker M. Williams Jamison 2.37 97.79 BOS CLE* -8.34 -17 82720_CLE_2010
2 James Parker Varejao M. Williams Jamison 28.26 28.06 BOS CLE* 18.83 11 84512_CLE_2010
3 James Parker Varejao West Jamison 11.26 13.94 BOS CLE* 6.89 2 72224_CLE_2010
4 Hickson James West M. Williams Jamison 26.74 13.74 BOS CLE* 20.97 6 86052_CLE_2010
5 James O’Neal West M. Williams Jamison 1.61 10.43 BOS CLE* -9.19 -2 86304_CLE_2010
6 Hickson James Varejao West M. Williams 4.17 8.77 BOS CLE* 0.00 0 22564_CLE_2010
7 Ilgauskas James Varejao West M. Williams -26.04 8.63 BOS CLE* -33.42 -6 22568_CLE_2010
8 James Varejao West M. Williams Jamison 20.23 7.51 BOS CLE* 12.79 2 88096_CLE_2010
9 James O’Neal Parker West Jamison 14.58 6.68 BOS CLE* -0.05 0 70432_CLE_2010
10 Hickson James Parker Varejao West -59.52 6.36 BOS CLE* -60.34 -8 6692_CLE_2010
Key Observations on the Series
· Rondo’s domination of Parker was a key to the Celtic’s series win. In 169 minutes when James, Rondo and Parker were in the Celtics were +18 points, but when Rondo and James were in and Parker was out the Celtics were down 6 points in 66 minutes.
· Although Pierce did not shoot well, his defense on the King was vital. In 192 minutes with James and Pierce on the court the Celtics were +32 points but when James was in with Pierce out for 62 minutes the Celtics got beat by 16 points!
· The unsung hero was Tony Allen. In 52 minutes with Tony in and Ray Allen out the Celtics were an amazing +42 points. Big Z, AV, and James countered Tony well (+6 points in 9 minutes) but the rest of the time Tony destroyed the Cavs.
· All season the Cavs were better with small ball. This series was no exception. James and AV in without Shaq: 109 minutes +7 points, played 9 points per game better than average. Shaq and James in AV out: 117 minutes -20 points, played 3 points better than average. So why not try more small ball?
· The Cavs continually used the starting lineup, even though it continued to perform poorly. Here are some other combos that worked well (besides lineup #2).
1. West, Williams and James (with Big Z out): 48 minutes, +13 points, played 19 points better than average.
2. Moon. AV, James, with West or Williams and a 5th of Z or Jamison: 12 minutes +15 points!
Our impact ratings summarize how a team’s chance of winning (after adjusting for the other 9 players on the court) changes when a player is in. Thus garbage time (like the end of games 3 and 5) has little impact on Impact rating. For the last 5 games of the series Shaq had a horrible impact (-72%). Jamison -52% also had a very poor impact. Varaejo, on the other hand had a much better (although still bad) Impact rating of -28%. This means the games really turned against the Cavs much more with Shaq in than AV in: another argument for more small ball!. For the Celtics there were many stars but top Impact ratings go to Pierce +65%, Rasheed +56%, Tony Allen +43%, and Rondo +38%.
We hope our observations shed some light on this amazing piece of NBA history.